Will We Recognize Friends and Family in Heaven?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

When believers finally reach heaven, will we know our family members?  Will we remember our friends?  What about those with whom we shared the gospel with?  What does the Bible say about who we will know once we get to heaven?

Will We Remember Others in Hell?

One of Jesus’ most powerful stories is that of Lazarus and the Rich Man.  Let’s read the account to see if this gives us any help as to whether we will recognize people on the other side of eternity, even in hell.  It is found in Luke 16:19-31:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’  And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.

Will we recognize friends and family in heaven?

Oh! What a Heavenly family reunion it will be.

Notice that the rich man had memories of his family as he wanted them to know that there truly is a hell but Abraham told Lazarus that he could not return from the dead to go back and warn his family.  Abraham told him that they have Moses and the prophets, which means that they had the Old Testament — the bulk of the Old Testament is contained in Moses’ writing’s in the first five books and then the major and Minor Prophets.  Not only will those who spend eternity in hell have memories of their friends, family, and acquaintances, they seem to have a passionate desire to warn others of the impending doom of hell.

The Transfiguration

When Jesus revealed his glory to Peter, James, and John, they immediately recognized Moses and Elijah even though they had never even met them.  They knew enough about them that they recognized them. Jesus never introduced them or told the disciples who these men were…the disciples already knew them.  Let’s read the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 1:1-8:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”  And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

When the Scripture said there appeared to them Moses and Elijah there was no mention of confusion as to whom these men were.  Peter said,Lord, it is good that we are here.  If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and Elijah.”  So Peter named them by their own given names.  There is no doubt Peter, James, and John knew who these men were, even after these men were on the other side of eternity.

The God of the Still Living: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Jesus spoke of these men as still being alive for He said in Matthew 8:11,I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” God also told Moses that “”I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6).  We could put it this way and still be correct: He is the God of the still living somewhere Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  One day theSadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’  Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh.  Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.” But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt 22:23-32).  Once again, Jesus spoke of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as still being alive and known by name. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection but Jesus said of those who had been married that they would neither be married nor be given in marriage.  This indicates that those who are married today will know each other in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus Calls Them by Name in Heaven

Notice that Jesus called Lazarus’ name, also Abraham’s, Isaac’s, Jacob’s, and also Moses (Matt 19:8) and Elijah in His reference to John the Baptist coming in the spirit of Elijah (Matt 11:13-14).  Jesus even mentions the first two humans who were created (Matt 19:4).  In Revelation 2:17 is says,Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” The important verses here are that we will be given a new name which indicates that we will be known by our old names too.  In fact, our names are written in heaven in the Book of Life and our names are already registered in heaven as we read in Hebrews 12:23 which was written to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.”

Notice that Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people (his ancestors)” (Gen 25:8).  Also, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people” (Gen 25:17). Jacob was explicit in his instructions about his burial in Genesis 49:29-33, Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.”  Clearly, Jacob knew that he was going to be buried with his fathers and his relatives.

Numbers 27:12-13 says much the same thing, The Lord said to Moses, “Go up into this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel.  When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was.”  So both Aaron and Moses will be gathered to their people…and these must be the people who are going to be in the Kingdom of Heaven; those Old Testament saints that are also mentioned in the so-called “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews.  These are named by name:  Moses, Enoch, Noah, Abel, and many others.  They had not at death received the promises but were longing for a better country—a heavenly one in which they would join the other saints (Heb 11:16a) because God has prepared a city for them (Heb 11:16b).  David also knew for sure he would recognize his son who died in infancy when he would see him again some day saying, But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam 12:23). There is no doubt David will recognize his own son for he spoke expectantly of seeing him again and “going” to him.  This “going to him” is where the child is now.  In 1 Cor 13:12 Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  Here Paul says that when we see God face to face, we will know even as we are known!  I had never read that before and it just struck me that Paul would not only know but also be known.

Conclusion

There is so much Scriptural support that we can conclude that we will know our family, our friends, our co-workers, and those who we have shared the gospel within the Kingdom of Heaven.  Oh! What a heavenly family reunion that will be.  What joy to be reunited with our loved ones. We will know them by name and they will know us by name.  The only ones that will be missing are those who have not placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  So why not share the good news with them…and tell them that they will see them again someday and know them by name in heaven.  There is only one other place that they could possibly go if not to heaven.  Try to take with you as many as you can to heaven by telling them about the only way to get there.  That is Jesus Christ and by Him alone (Acts 4:12).

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Sources:

New International Version Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

YouTube video “When We All Get to Heaven” by the Bellamy Brothers


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